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Nursing During Coronavirus: A Personal Story

award winning nurse
The author's wife, Mary Beth Picatello, with her Clinician of the Year award presented by Kindred at Home.

Going to work for 25 years at state and county correctional facilities, I never thought about what my family was thinking regarding my health and safety.

I assumed my training, common sense and knowledge was enough to ease any fears, but I realize now that the unknown part of my profession was probably the scariest part of all for them. Because now, it's my turn to have such concerns.

The coronavirus has gripped the world. Healthcare workers at all levels need to be commended, along with the firefighters, EMT’S, police, correction officers, and retail workers who are so essential to all of us. They are literally saving our lives by working along-side the unknown every day.

The worst outcomes were documented by USA TODAY as a small band of nurses gathered at the White House and read aloud the names of nurses who are known to have died of COVID 29, and to demand mass production of personal protective equipment.

Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, told USA TODAY that Congress and the White House must require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare and other frontline workers from COVID 19 exposure.

That is very personal to me because I know such a nurse; she gives daily and weekly care to patients who are restricted to their homes. She brings a meal, provides check- ups, wound care, and dispenses medication, among other services.

Entering a home with an N95 mask and gloves has replaced her customary smile and calming hello. She is just exercising caution and due diligence, but her patients fret. She gives treatment as she works to calm their fears and as she checks for symptoms of the deadly virus.

Courageously and patiently, she still spends time talking to, and comforting, her patients, some of whom haven’t seen a relative or friend for weeks, while others may have been in contact with someone carrying the virus. That is her unknown.

She still picks up medication, entering hospitals that are under strict precautions, but where risks still lurk. But I know she has common sense, knowledge and skills.

Yet with all that training and professionalism, we (she) endured the agonizing wait for the results of her COVID-19 test after she experienced symptoms. Thankfully, she tested negative and she is OK.

She is back out there again working, doing her job, caring for patients. And though I worry, I know she loves what she does. I trust her judgement like she trusted mine. Her patients appreciate her, and my family appreciates what she does and why.

This nurse is my wife. I hope you appreciate her, and all of her colleagues, too.

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